The state ban on the possession or sale of shark fins took full effect on July 1, and Chinatown restaurants are none too happy about it. The law, which began to take effect in January, stipulated that shark fins that had been previously obtained by importers could be sold off until the end of June, but that restaurants are not allowed to buy it.
However, confusion around the law has some Chinatown restaurants still selling shark fin soup, which can go for as much as $40 a bowl.
A lawsuit filed a year ago by the San Francisco Chinatown Neighborhood Association and the Burlingame-based Asian Americans for Political Advancement states that outlawing shark fins is discriminatory against Chinese-Americans and points out that shark's fin soup is a ceremonial centerpiece to many meals and celebrations. The group's lawyer has said that one of their arguments concerns the legal status of sharks caught in federal or international waters. Oral arguments on the appeal will be heard on August 14.
Assemblymen Paul Fong, who co-authored the bill with Jared Huffman, said in a statement that the the shark fin industry poses a direct threat to the health of the ocean. “The high value of the fins and the low value of the rest of the shark drive this brutal practice of finning, where sharks are finned and thrown back into the ocean to slowly bleed out and die.”
Previously: All SFist shark fin coverage.